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Old 01-04-2013, 02:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Buy blanks or cut your own ?

I am looking for some African blackwood and desert ironwood blanks. Is it better/cheaper to buy the larger pieces and cut them your self or just buy the pre-cut blanks? And what is a good source for these two woods?

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Old 01-04-2013, 02:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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i like to cut block wood then re-saw my pens blanks. i would check wood craft they may have 2inx2inch by 18 in long blocks or something like that.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Desert Ironwood is very hard. It's one wood I'd buy pre-cut so I wouldn't break any blades. African Blackwood doesn't come in very big sections. Some Blackwood pen blanks on Ebay seem reasonable enough. The last ones I seen were sold in packs of 5.
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Depends. In my area, it is cheaper to buy African Blackwood pen blanks than to cut from larger stock. Purpleheart and Redheart are the opposite here.
Check local prices and see what makes sense.
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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You can purchase blanks in all kinds of species from catalog sources and some might be very nice.... Most will be somewhat plain. By far the best method,IMO, is purchasing from sources (like the vendors here) that show actual photos of the blanks you will receive.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Rough cut wood is always going to be cheaper to buy if you look at the cost of a blank opposed to plank when looking at board feet. All depends on when you need it and how much of it. I've found really good deals on that auction site and just cut my own blanks or strips for segmenting.

Good luck in whatever you choose
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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I am fortunate enough to live just a couple of blocks from Woodworker's Source here in Phoenix. They carry just about every exotic wood you can think of, and are willing to cut small pieces off a plank of, say, jatoba, or zebrawood, etc. I bought 6" of 8/4 zebrawood the other day to make some wide napkin rings. I buy purpleheart, padouk, etc all the time and cut it into pen blanks. They also have bowl blanks and turning squares, but it is cheapest to just find a board that has some fancy grain near one end and have them cut it off for me. I got some spectacular hickory that way once.

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Old 01-04-2013, 09:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Boards will, nearly always, be cheaper.

So, if you can find a board with excellent grain that will convert to pen blanks with no waste--you got a winner!!

However, straight grained pens are "run of the mill". You want to make "showpiece pens", you need to get burls or wild grain of some sort. With those you will have a LARGE amount of waste. If you buy pen blanks--you have a much better idea of what the pen will look like----sometimes you will still be fooled, but not as often as buying a "chunk" and guessing what the middle will yield. Also, unfortunately, I have never been able to buy a burl that was exactly 4.5-5", so I could get blanks without waste.

IF you are just making "gift pens for the family", straight grain may be fine for you and a board can be a cost-effective purchase.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ed4copies View Post
Boards will, nearly always, be cheaper.

So, if you can find a board with excellent grain that will convert to pen blanks with no waste--you got a winner!!

However, straight grained pens are "run of the mill". You want to make "showpiece pens", you need to get burls or wild grain of some sort. With those you will have a LARGE amount of waste. If you buy pen blanks--you have a much better idea of what the pen will look like----sometimes you will still be fooled, but not as often as buying a "chunk" and guessing what the middle will yield. Also, unfortunately, I have never been able to buy a burl that was exactly 4.5-5", so I could get blanks without waste.

IF you are just making "gift pens for the family", straight grain may be fine for you and a board can be a cost-effective purchase.
Unless you happen to have 50 mulberry crowns in your back yard! Then you can get all the burly wild grain you want . I don't know what I am going to do with all this stuff. I have cut up two of these crowns and I have several hundred blanks. Now what do I do with the other 48 crowns? I can't BEAR the idea of him taking them to the dump. I think I'll load them in the back of my truck and head across country like Johnny Appleseed, strewing them along the way at every penturner I can find!
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:44 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbwertz View Post
Unless you happen to have 50 mulberry crowns in your back yard! Then you can get all the burly wild grain you want . I don't know what I am going to do with all this stuff. I have cut up two of these crowns and I have several hundred blanks. Now what do I do with the other 48 crowns? I can't BEAR the idea of him taking them to the dump. I think I'll load them in the back of my truck and head across country like Johnny Appleseed, strewing them along the way at every penturner I can find!
Head up north towards British Columbia....
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